Bob Quinn ups expectations for the Detroit Lions running game in 2018

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Stafford under center
CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 14: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions at the line of scrimmage during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

How it changes the roster

The Lions brought back four starters from their offensive line of a year ago: Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang, and Rick Wagner. It should be noted that only Glasgow played the whole season. Joe Dahl, guard-tackle, and Corey Robinson, tackle, the two top reserves of 2017, are returning. Wesley Johnson and Kenny Wiggins were signed to compete on the inside. By simple math, the two rookies, Ragnow and Crosby, plus the four former starters, plus the four backup and free agent players, equals someone’s going to get cut.

To be fair, there are additional players that have an outside chance of making the final roster, too.

Let’s assume, (really hope) that Taylor Decker is healthy at left tackle. If he can regain his 2016 form, we’ll be good. Then, it is reasonable to assume that Ragnow and Glasgow will be the left guard and center. I would give Glasgow the edge for being the center just based on experience, plus he was an effective center. Also, center is generally more important, where experience counts. Lang is back at right guard. Lastly, Rick Wagner is at right tackle.

As far as a few backups, that’s where the preseason will matter a great deal. In total, it is common for the Lions to have about eight or nine spots open for offensive linemen on the regular season, active roster. They have kept as many as ten, but I’m sure they would like to use a couple of spots elsewhere for a change.

Thoughts about backups

When choosing those players at slots six through eight to nine, teams usually have at least one tackle who can play either side (ideally), what we call a swing tackle. Corey Robinson has been the swing tackle for the past two seasons, but was also hurt going into the season last year. Tyrell Crosby is now a candidate to take over there if Robinson cannot stay available.

The Lions will also look for a versatile interior lineman, who can play guard and center. There are no less than three players who have experience at both: Glasgow, Ragnow, and Wesley Johnson.

The other one or two spots really depend on need. If you have really solid, available players starting and two reliable backups, you could keep a developmental player or two. For the Leos, though, the line has been such an issue that they will look to keep depth at both center/ guard and especially left tackle.

The emphasis this off-season was getting tougher. Both Ragnow and Crosby have been praised for playing angry or having an edge.